The bus smells of sweat and cigarette smoke. Two minutes into the trip and driver already puts a crazy loud music on. I cannot hear anything now. The base is crushing my ears. There is just one thought in my mind- somebody turn off this music please! He will turn it down in a moment, I think to myself. It is surely impossible that passangers could go on like this, it is just one song he likes, for sure. Few minutes have passed and it continues. Nobody reacts. Young Indonesian boy sitting next to me is travelling from Medan to Jakarta. He does not know how to ask the driver to turn the music down. Finally I stand up and shout at the top of my lungs, trying to be lauder than this mad noise- ‘Turn the music down! Turn it down! …Please’. At the same time I am holding with one hand to the sit in front of me and pointing at the speaker with the other, trying not to bump my head against the low ceilling. Some people join me in my screams and he gets it. ‘Tirima kasih!’ Now I can hear the guy burping repeatedly in the back. My neighbour is asking me something. ‘Miss, you married?’
Food sellers are coming in and out, offering fried snacks and sugary drinks. We are driving for four hours now, but it already feels like ages. Are these people really going all the way to Jakarta? They look so calm. After some time we stop to eat- ‘Makan! Makan!’ I go out and everybody stares at me. I am the only white person here and in the bus. Today I chose not to reply to a brazen ‘hellos’. I did not have energy to talk to everyone who I looked back at. I checked what the restaurant had to offered. Menu never chages: white rice, fried fish or fried chicken. The food is prepared in the morning and lies all day in big bowls behind a dirty display glass. I decide to skip this meal and just use the toilet. Down in the ladies room a girl is vomiting. They want me to pay for a toilet. I don’t, none of Indonesians does, it is dirty and discusting. I buy some cookies and take a sip of coffee. The bus is already leaving.
Nobody in a bus reads or listens to music. Women behind me talk constantly and eat fried fish crackers. The guy in front is playing with his two enormously long nails, bent at the end and yellow from cigarettes. The rest is staring bluntly at everything around them. My neighbor is openly trying to read my writing.
We pass piles of plastic, litlle villages, smashed old huts. Never in my life i saw so much plastic being used and wasted every day. People do not respect the nature around them. In the middle of a forest, in a tiny village, five year old girl wearing dirty, worn-out pink dress, playes with her tablet. She wants to take my picture.
We continue our journey through destroyed jungle roads. From time to time original Batak house appears. Characteristic pointed roof covered with corrugated tin or thach, walls painted in all colours and shapes you can imagine. Bus is rolling across the rice fields. I see a chestnut buffalo on the side of the road, chikens running around with a rainbow roosters. Brick houses are scattered in between the wooden huts. Usually coated wit an aluminium roof, rarely with tile. Soon the sun will be setting down. It is still incredibly hot. I watch spreading banana leafs, changing their colour in afternoon light. My eyes follow the power line extending along the road. Big satellites are sticking out in front of every house. The bus ride seems wilder than the jungle outside. ‘Innovations’ of a western world got even as far as here, but instead of bringing a good change, they made people’s life more difficult. With not enough knowledge about ecology and alternative source of energies, Indonesia invited a range of foreign companies into their country. Their products are killing local economy, environment and also have a huge impact on people’s health. Indonesian goverment lets jungle being destroyed for a palm oil plantations. Which now are becoming the main part of Indonesian landscape. From the bus window I watch endless kilometers of them. We pass an enormous space of unused red soil. There are buildings very much resembling European terraced houses. Groups of them, newly built, looking ridiculously in the middle of a rainforest, waiting for somebody to move in. We go by the spacious river carrying red clay. In the water there are destroyed conrete blocks, which made a part of an old bridge together with wooden stakes emerging from the stream. Down on the river bench, boys splash around naked. Girls are dressed with dirty, soaking wet clothes, stucking onto their body. The driver every now and then brakes sharply and fouriously pushes on the horn. Music yells on a full volume and I am exhausted.
Pointy mountain fall into the ocean of plastic. Everybody throws their rubbish on the bus floor. when we stop to eat, one man sweeps it all out on a street. We are driving already for twenty six hours and I am high on cigarette smoke. Literally every man in a bus smokes. Each of them lights up a cigarette every ten minutes, flicking the ash all over the place. I never hated cigarettes this much in my life. None of the women smokes. Somebody left a chewing gum on my sit and it melted into my clothes in all this heat. Ash is covering a floor and it is all over my shoes and bag. Drivers have changed and now. The new one is turning up the speakers’ volume again. I am too tired to react…
After five more coffees and many more packs of biscuits my trip has ended. I could not believe when it was finally over.